Four Triple Sonnets

Poetry / Dorothy Chan

:: Triple Sonnet for Eggsexuals ::

          My friend Colleen says she’s eggsexual, 
and I’ve never heard a more brilliant 
          food metaphor—I dream of shakshuka 
with extra basil, and when in doubt, garlic 
          it out, and black pepper, black pepper, black 
pepper, and why do I hate greens for dinner 
          but love them for breakfast: Eggs Florentine 
with artichoke hearts as a surprise, or what  
          about spinach and poached eggs washed down 
with a dry martini—the 11:00 AM meal 
          of choice for glove lunch goers everywhere, 
or as Taneum says, it’s the elusive fantasy 
          mealtime of queer women, a way of flirtation 
that’s much more complex than chugging a beer 
and eating hot wings, or as I say to men 
          on the first date: Let’s get this out of the way: 
I will outdrink you. You will think I’m boring 
          because I hate sports and I love museums. 
I hate going to the beach. I hate hiking.  
          Wow, I’m such a buzzkill holding a whiskey 
in a short skirt and red lipstick, but at least 
          I’m honest, and maybe they’re not enough. 
And I’ll take the glove lunch any day— 
          the matching plaid skirt with blazer mixed 
with the glances and blushing under the table 
          and double the dry martinis before noon, 
because why not, I think, when I ask R 
          on the phone how she likes her eggs and coffee, 
          and isn’t it funny how these are the questions 
you ask when you’re dating? I remember 
          my dad’s dry scramble vs. my mom’s wet 
scramble from childhood, and maybe eggs 
          are precious, like in the typical middle school 
social studies project of treating a hard-boiled 
          egg like it’s your own child, but I never got it, 
because it’s just an egg, and what’s not stopping 
          me from breaking the shell and getting into  
the yolk? And I remember abandoning  
          my child at the lunch table to buy some chips, 
branded a “bad mom” from that moment on, 
          but it’s just an egg—and oh, how I felt ripped off 
when it didn’t hatch into a baby bird.  


:: Triple Sonnet, Because She Makes Me Hot ::

          She makes me hot, so I eat chocolate cheesecake 
after our phone call, down an espresso, and take 
          a hot shower, because it’s one of those nights 
I’ve craved since I was a little girl who 
          discovered that boys weren’t the only option, 
and I remember my first crushes on women— 
          the fantasy of starring in my own trashy 
mid 2000s reality show on MTV where 
          it’s a double (or triple) 
                                                                  shot at love, 
and I’d strut around in emerald lingerie, 
          telling the boys and girls to spank me, 
feed me carrot cake, and go out for a midnight 
          swim in the nude. And isn’t it sexy how often 
water appears in our dreams? But of course, 
                                       not all love is trashy, and I think about 
                              dressing up in a cheerleader costume, 
                                        telling the lady contestants, I used to sneak 
                              a glimpse of the girls on the football field. 
                                        But I’d rather skip gym class, paint all over 
                              canvases with beauties, or be ambitious, like 
                                        Tara Reid’s Vicky in American Pie, looking 
                              oh, so fine in her gray Cornell t-shirt, and  
                                        it’s oh so tight, Tara, and isn’t it ironic 
                              how I ended up going Big Red, or back 
                                        to my college days in Ithaca when my friend 
                              L and I would tongue under my covers, 
                                        saying “This is practice for the boys,”  
                              but we knew what we were doing—How 
does one even achieve intimacy?
          is really the million-dollar question 
of the century, and L, what we had 
          wasn’t a phase, and I remember donning 
your yellow flannel after the sun went down 
          in those Ithaca winters, and how you’d  
eye me saying, “You look like you just 
          had sex,” and we’d laugh and hug and I’d walk 
home. And sometimes I feel frozen in that 
          moment in time, when I’d get home, crawl 
into my own bed, in the nude, thinking about 
          my friend Anna’s words, “I think girls in boyish 
clothes look more feminine,” and I’d wipe off 
          my red lipstick with a tissue—fall asleep.  


:: Triple Sonnet and Three Cheers for the Asian Bachelorette ::

Yena wants an Asian Bachelorette,
          but she’s worried our bachelorette 
will get disowned by her family,
          because nothing screams Dear Mom and Dad
abandon me more than a starring role
          on reality TV and even the thought
of casual dating, and I wonder why
          parents like mine expect me to pop out
a baby when I wasn’t supposed to date
          in my twenties. It’s like the stork flew in,
and out came the perfect black-haired child
          I’d dedicate my life to, giving up poetry,
along with the endless cycle of girls and
          boys and great lovers in infatuation,

          and my problem is that I can’t say yes,
though I think yes, done, and one are
          the sexiest words in the English language,
or maybe I’m the Asian Bachelorette
          Yena so desires—the female lead who
leaves you hanging each week because
          I can’t make up my mind when it comes
to love. I’ll cry on cue in a ballroom gown
          in a castle in Switzerland, after a tough
elimination, regretting my decision right
          away, but scratch that, I’d never wear
am evening dress since I hate formal wear,
          and nothing turns me off more than a man
in a suit, and why all the focus on the outfits

when this is my life and my feelings 
          and the hot sex I crave every night
under the covers, and what if I played
          my Bachelorette role more Flavor of Love
or I Love New York, giving out nicknames
          to pass the time, because we all need 
a little levity when it comes to love,
          so how’s about Stud or 8-Pack or Sailor								
Uranus to my Sailor Neptune. And yes
          to all this cheer especially when the final two
meet my family over hotpot, and I end up 
          choosing the one they dislike, but scratch that,
I’ll eliminate both, because nothing’s better
          than being a free agent who doesn’t settle.


:: Triple Sonnet for Hers and Hers Towels and Princess Aurora’s Blue/Pink Gown ::

My brother’s wife gifts me a his and hers 
          hot chocolate set for Christmas, and I want
to scream, because in what universe are
          his and hers towels and his and hers mugs
and his and hers bathrobes still a thing? 
          All I see is his and hers rubbing it in
that I don’t have a his (that they know of),
          but really, what’s with shoving this hetero
agenda down my throat, along with cocoa,
          and my friend Drew says at least I get double
the chocolate, when what I really want is
          a frozen hot chocolate with extra whipped
cream and chocolate shavings and cherry
          on top from Serendipity 3, which is ironic

          because that’s the site of all the romantic 
comedies I hate. And what’s with shoving
          the hetero agenda down the throats of young
women, and I remember having a freak out
          at the Krispy Kreme in Rainbow Springs
Shopping Center in Vegas, because if 
          gender reveal cakes and gender reveal parties
anger me to no end, then gender reveal donuts
          are the spawn of evil dessert we don’t need,
because who chews into a custard crème,
          sees pink or blue, and feels normal afterwards,
when yellow was just fine? It’s the economy
          of it all I hate the most—the way blue boy
and pink girl keeps getting pushed, when

the only blue boy I know is the oil portrait
          by Gainsborough or the men’s magazine of
abs abs abs and then some more dessert. 
          Or what about pink girl / blue girl, also
known as Aurora’s color-changing gown
          in Sleeping Beauty, and it’s funny how 
this princess only had eighteen minutes
          of screen time, most of which is taken up								
by this pink and blue debate, when I really
          wanted to see her in green dancing in 
the woods, seducing all the birds around
          her, barefoot, in charge, dumping Prince Phillip,
because that kiss was dry as hell, and a princess
          needs at least sixty minutes of screen time.




From the writer


:: Account ::

Often, at read­ings, I get asked about the ori­gins of my triple son­nets. I’m very proud to call the triple son­net my sig­na­ture form. I start by say­ing that three is such a mag­ic num­ber. Think back to the fairy­tales and fan­ta­sy books you read as a kid. I mean, the best things in life come in threes: Spumoni and Neapoli­tan ice cream, bears, hot celebri­ties with three names, the Pow­er­puff Girls, the BLT sand­wich, etc. It’s like get­ting three wish­es all at once. And, the son­net is such a mag­i­cal form. 

I think about how the best poems don’t con­tain just one volta/turn but mul­ti­ple voltas/turns. It’s a beau­ti­ful sur­prise each time that hap­pens. And it’s a beau­ti­ful sur­prise when it hap­pens at an unex­pect­ed spot in the poem. I think the best feel­ing in the expe­ri­ence of read­ing a poem is when you get to the very end, and the last line makes you go back to the first, thus going in an infi­nite cir­cle, right back to the title and the first line. 

My poet­ry works with excess. I mean, why have only one son­net [or insert any­thing else you’re obsessed with] when you could have three (or five or one hun­dred or ten bil­lion)? I love food, and in par­tic­u­lar, this set of triple son­nets empha­sizes appetite, whether it’s about the speaker’s crav­ings for shak­shu­ka and Eggs Flo­ren­tine in “Triple Son­net for Egg­sex­u­als,” her desires for this woman who “makes me feel hot, so I eat choco­late cheese­cake / after our phone call” in “Triple Son­net, Because She Makes Me Hot,” her need for real­i­ty TV fame in “Triple Son­net and Three Cheers for the Asian Bach­e­lorette,” or her mis­sion to end het­ero­nor­ma­tiv­i­ty and the bina­ry struc­ture in “Triple Son­net for Hers and hers Tow­els and Princess Aurora’s Blue/Pink Gown.” I think it’s impor­tant to let our crav­ings out in poet­ry. It’s all very wild.


Dorothy Chan is the author of Revenge of the Asian Woman (Diode Edi­tions, 2019), Attack of the Fifty-Foot Cen­ter­fold (Spork Press, 2018), and the chap­book Chi­na­town Son­nets (New Delta Review, 2017). She is a two-time Ruth Lil­ly and Dorothy Sar­gent Rosen­berg Poet­ry Fel­low­ship final­ist, a 2020 final­ist for the Lamb­da Lit­er­ary Award in Bisex­u­al Poet­ry for Revenge of the Asian Woman, and a 2019 recip­i­ent of the Philip Fre­und Prize in Cre­ative Writ­ing from Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty. Her work has appeared in POETRY, The Amer­i­can Poet­ry Review, Acad­e­my of Amer­i­can Poets, and else­where. Chan is an assis­tant pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Eau Claire, poet­ry edi­tor of Hobart, book review co-edi­tor of Pleiades, and found­ing edi­tor and edi­tor-in-chief of Hon­ey Lit­er­ary. Vis­it her web­site at